Tracy v. Municipal Court

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtMANUEL; BIRD
Citation150 Cal.Rptr. 785,587 P.2d 227,22 Cal.3d 760
Decision Date14 December 1978
Parties, 587 P.2d 227 Jonathan Wayne TRACY, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. The MUNICIPAL COURT FOR the GLENDALE JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Defendant and Appellant; The PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest and Appellant. Gary Donald LOISEAU, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. The MUNICIPAL COURT FOR the CITRUS JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Defendant and Appellant; The PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest and Appellant. L.A. 30947.

Page 785

150 Cal.Rptr. 785
22 Cal.3d 760, 587 P.2d 227
Jonathan Wayne TRACY, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
The MUNICIPAL COURT FOR the GLENDALE JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Defendant and Appellant;
The PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest and Appellant.
Gary Donald LOISEAU, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
The MUNICIPAL COURT FOR the CITRUS JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Defendant and Appellant;
The PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest and Appellant.
L.A. 30947.
Supreme Court of California, In Bank.
Dec. 14, 1978.

[22 Cal.3d 762] John H. Larson, County Counsel, and David B. Kelsey, Deputy County Counsel, Los Angeles, for defendants and appellants.

John K. Van de Kamp, Dist. Atty., Harry B. Sondheim, Donald J. Kaplan and George M. Palmer, Deputy Dist. Attys., for real party in interest and appellant.

Wilbur F. Littlefield, Public Defender, Harold E. Shabo, Anita S. Brenner and

Page 786

[587 P.2d 228] Dennis A. Fischer, Deputy Public Defenders, for plaintiffs and respondents.

Harry V. Lehmann, II, Novato, Peter M. Weil and Fred Okrand, Los Angeles, as amici curiae on behalf of plaintiffs and respondents.

MANUEL, Justice.

In these consolidated appeals we must decide whether indigent defendants charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana (Health & Saf. Code, § 11357, subd. (b)) are entitled to the assistance of appointed counsel and to trial by jury. In separate mandate proceedings the superior court held that such defendants are entitled to those rights on the ground that the offense is a misdemeanor and not an infraction. It entered judgments accordingly. The municipal [22 Cal.3d 763] courts and the People appeal. Despite the fact that the offense is punishable only by a fine of $100, we conclude that the Legislature meant precisely what it said when it designated the offense a misdemeanor and therefore the judgments must be affirmed.

At the outset we note that during the pendency of the appeal, respondent Loiseau appeared in the trial court represented by the public defender, waived jury trial, entered a guilty plea as charged, and paid a fine of $100. Since only the Loiseau appeal presents the issue of right to trial by jury, and because that issue is of broad public interest and is likely to recur, we exercise our inherent discretion to resolve the issue even though Loiseau's guilty plea has rendered it technically moot. (Ferrara v. Belanger (1976) 18 Cal.3d 253, 259, 133 Cal.Rptr. 849, 555 P.2d 1089; In re Law (1973) 10 Cal.3d 21, 23, 109 Cal.Rptr. 573, 513 P.2d 621; In re M. (1970) 3 Cal.3d 16, 23, 89 Cal.Rptr. 33, 473 P.2d 737.)

Appellants contend that the rights to appointment of counsel and to trial by jury are not required in prosecutions involving offenses punishable by fine only and that the Legislature did not intend to extend these rights to defendants charged with violation of subdivision (b) of section 11357. 1 They urge that despite its definition as a misdemeanor, the offense has all the attributes of a petty offense and is therefore only an infraction. They contend that a person charged with the offense has neither the right to trial by jury nor the right to appointed counsel.

Health and Safety Code section 11357, subdivision (b) provides: "Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses not more than one avoirdupois ounce of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, Is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100). Notwithstanding other provisions of law, if such person has been previously convicted three or more times of an offense described in this subdivision during the two-year period immediately preceding the date of commission of the violation to be charged, the previous convictions shall also be charged in the accusatory pleading and, if found to be true by the jury upon a jury trial or by the court upon a court trial or if admitted by the person, the provisions of Sections 1000.1 and 1000.2 of the Penal Code shall be applicable to him, and the court shall divert and refer him for education, treatment, or rehabilitation, without a court hearing or determination or the concurrence of the district attorney, to an appropriate community program which will accept him. If the person is so diverted and referred he shall not be subject to the [22 Cal.3d 764] fine specified in this subdivision. If no community program will accept him, the person shall be subject to the fine specified in this subdivision. In any case in which a person is arrested for a violation of this subdivision and does not demand to be taken before a magistrate, such person shall be released by the...

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68 practice notes
  • Terminal Plaza Corp. v. City and County of San Francisco
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 1, 1986
    ...of the Legislature. (People v. Knowles (1950) 35 [186 Cal.App.3d 827] Cal.2d 175, 182 [217 P.2d 1] ...; Tracy v. Municipal Court (1978) 22 Cal.3d 760, 764 [150 Cal.Rptr. 785, 587 P.2d 227]....) 'If the words of the statute are clear, the court should not add to or alter them to accomplish a......
  • Mitchell v. Superior Court (People), S.F. 24790
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • January 2, 1987
    ...include all conduct which may be denominated a "criminal offense" (see, e.g., Pen.Code, §§ 16, 19c; Tracy v. Municipal Court (1978) 22 Cal.3d 760, 765, 150 Cal.Rptr. 785, 587 P.2d 227 [infractions are denominated crimes, but do not require a [43 Cal.3d 137] jury trial] ), nor all conduct wh......
  • Youngblood v. Gates, No. B002438
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 4, 1988
    ...we must assume that the Legislature 'knew what it was saying and meant what it said.' [Citation.]" (Tracy v. Municipal Court (1978) 22 Cal.3d 760, 764, 150 Cal.Rptr. 785, 587 P.2d There are no "compelling countervailing considerations" in the instant case, and, in light of settled case auth......
  • Mitchell v. Superior Court, S.F. 24790
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 28, 1989
    ...defendant faced with misdemeanor or felony charges a right to trial by jury" (italics in original) ]; Tracy v. Municipal Court (1978) 22 Cal.3d 760, 766, 150 Cal.Rptr. 785, 587 P.2d 227, and cases cited ["A person charged [49 Cal.3d 1241] with a misdemeanor is entitled to ... a trial by jur......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
68 cases
  • Terminal Plaza Corp. v. City and County of San Francisco
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 1, 1986
    ...of the Legislature. (People v. Knowles (1950) 35 [186 Cal.App.3d 827] Cal.2d 175, 182 [217 P.2d 1] ...; Tracy v. Municipal Court (1978) 22 Cal.3d 760, 764 [150 Cal.Rptr. 785, 587 P.2d 227]....) 'If the words of the statute are clear, the court should not add to or alter them to accomplish a......
  • Mitchell v. Superior Court (People), S.F. 24790
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • January 2, 1987
    ...include all conduct which may be denominated a "criminal offense" (see, e.g., Pen.Code, §§ 16, 19c; Tracy v. Municipal Court (1978) 22 Cal.3d 760, 765, 150 Cal.Rptr. 785, 587 P.2d 227 [infractions are denominated crimes, but do not require a [43 Cal.3d 137] jury trial] ), nor all conduct wh......
  • Youngblood v. Gates, No. B002438
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 4, 1988
    ...we must assume that the Legislature 'knew what it was saying and meant what it said.' [Citation.]" (Tracy v. Municipal Court (1978) 22 Cal.3d 760, 764, 150 Cal.Rptr. 785, 587 P.2d There are no "compelling countervailing considerations" in the instant case, and, in light of settled case auth......
  • Mitchell v. Superior Court, S.F. 24790
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 28, 1989
    ...defendant faced with misdemeanor or felony charges a right to trial by jury" (italics in original) ]; Tracy v. Municipal Court (1978) 22 Cal.3d 760, 766, 150 Cal.Rptr. 785, 587 P.2d 227, and cases cited ["A person charged [49 Cal.3d 1241] with a misdemeanor is entitled to ... a trial by jur......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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